From the Napa Valley to Virginia Vines: Jefferson’s Legacy in Wine

This event is complete.  Virtual Event
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A coast-to-coast virtual conversation and tasting event between two exceptional vintners, united by an appreciation for Jefferson’s influence on American viticulture. 

Good wine was a critical ingredient in Thomas Jefferson’s ongoing experiment in American hospitality. It was also, he wrote to a friend, a “necessary of life.”

We invite you to pour a glass and join Stephen Corley of the acclaimed Napa Valley Monticello Vineyards, with Gabriele Rausse, the “father of Virginia wine,” for a guided tasting featuring varietals from two of the country’s leading wine regions. Moderated by Monticello Senior Historian and Development Officer Ann Lucas, participants will contrast and compare popular selections and taste the impact climate and soil can have on wine characteristics produced from the same grape.

Jefferson’s enlightened faith in science shaped his approach to winemaking on the Monticello mountaintop. Around the dinner table, he was an engaging host with a fervent desire for good conversation. During the tasting, Corley and Rausse will reflect on both of the President’s passions: his influence on establishing the American wine industry, and the abiding desire to share meaningful dialogue with friends and colleagues that elevated a Monticello dinner invitation to the top of every list.

Later in the program, our presenters will be joined by David Givens, Manager of Monticello’s Farm Table café, who will present seasonal food pairings for each featured wine.

Meet Your Hosts

Stephen Corley is a California native who learned the wine business quite literally from the ground up. One of seven siblings, he joined his father, Jay, and two brothers, Kevin and Chris at the winery in 1997 to direct the sales, marketing and community work on behalf of the vineyard.

The Corley’s have been on American soil for 380 years. Today, the family owns and manages some of the finest vineyard properties in the world, producing wines of singular quality and distinction. They drew heavily upon Jefferson’s inspiration when establishing the award-winning Monticello Vineyards, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

Gabriele Rausse, director of gardens and grounds at Monticello, first grafted Jefferson’s 1807 wine varietals for Monticello in 1984. A native of Vicenza, Italy, he graduated with a degree in agricultural science from Milan University. He worked first for the Tenuta Santa Margherita winery outside Venice and in 1976 was invited to Virginia to begin what is now Barboursville Vineyards. “The father of Virginia wine” has helped start more than 40 vineyards and 10 Virginia wineries.

David Givens has worked in every facet of the food industry – from acclaimed fine dining establishments to national food service companies who own and franchise thousands of restaurants around the world. In his current role as food and beverage manager at Monticello’s Farm Table, Givens is responsible for creating a dining experience that connects history with food and serves as a source of inspiration where visitors can learn to eat more responsibly and joyfully. Sharing the pleasures of sustainably, locally sourced ingredients, Givens’ seasonal menus feature produce grown on Monticello’s farm.

Participants will receive class instructions and a curated wine list for the tasting approximately 2 weeks prior to the event date.

Ticketholders receive an exclusive discount coupon available for use online or in The Shop at Monticello. Use when purchasing these must-have items for your favorite wine-lover, and more!*

Monticello Wine Decanter


Wine Scene Socks


Monticello “Necessary” Wine Glasses


Monticello Tulip Poplar Bottle Stopper


*certain restrictions apply

Can’t make the live event date? No problem! Ticketholders will receive a post-event link to enjoy the recorded program for a limited period of time.